A MEETING SPACE
A 19th century market hall which, in recent times, has become the beating heart of Bordeaux’s social and cultural associations.
In 1886, the Bordeaux mayor, Alfred Daney, inaugurated a new market hall between the wholesale Marché des Capucins, built 5 years before, and the former city ramparts. The Marché des Douves (a douve is a moat) is the only trace left in Bordeaux today of a style of architecture inspired by the central Paris market halls built between 1852 and 1870 by the architect Victor Baltard. His utilitarian principles did away with the 18th century’s architectural heritage, using brick, wood and glass to create a “curtain wall” that climbed to the top over various levels, creating a vast open space, covered by a mostly visible iron structure. The migration of wholesalers to the MIN of Brienne and the destruction of the Capucins market hall’s metallic structure in 1959, making way for a concrete structure, foreshadowed a sad ending for the Marché des Douves. Although it was falling apart, it was used until 1985, which meant that it lasted long enough to be considered part of Bordeaux’s 19th century heritage, and therefore in need of preservation; all that remained was to find a purpose for it. Finally, in 2004, a handful of culturally and socially-minded associations took a shining to this abandoned municipal building, and went in search of an architect and scenographer from the neighbourhood in their fight to turn this old hall into a meeting space, a workspace and a place for representing local initiatives. In their eyes, if every little town had such spaces, why shouldn’t a neighbourhood of between twenty and thirty thousand residents have one, particularly a neighbourhood which lies between St Michel, Capucins and St Jean: historical and natural melting pots. The project took shape, the mayor's office agreed, and the 50 01 Studio d'architec- ture team was selected for the quality of public spaces in their designs. A box made out of glass panes and panelling was built under the hall's structure, containing a café, a multimedia area, meeting rooms and a large multi- purpose plateau, with everything enveloped by a large walkway that maintains a direct link with the exterior. You can see across the structure and run into people of all backgrounds, which was the initial political idea of the project. Users of this space are invited to step out of their little box to meet- if not work with- each other. The doors are- in both a literal and figurative sense- open, and numerous
initiatives and events are tied to this place, created by people from across the city. Languages mix, a contemporary music group from the conservatory follows a sign language café, the Têt festival precedes an Iranian National Holiday celebration, hip hop dancers run into members of the Commission for Historical Memory... Aside from certain rare festival events (Chahuts- a festival for spoken word, Zinefest- a desktop publishing event), you can see what is happening there shortly beforehand by checking out the website. Open spaces, a diverse population, last-minute occurances: the spirit of the market is still alive. Marché des Douves 4 rue des Douves 33800 Bordeaux Tel: 05 35 38 16 06 - douves.org Opens to the general public and association-run café opens Weds-fri, 10am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-7pm, Saturday 10am-2pm
Jardin des Remparts
These discrete gardens beside the remnants of the city wall (14th-17th centuries) sit next to the Marché des Douves. Plane trees, an oratory, old traces of defence systems and two contemporary frescos provide an escape from the city, right in the heart of it. Stair access on Rue Marbotin and at the end of Rue des Douves April-may 8.30am-7.30pm, June-aug. 8.30am-8.30pm, Sep.-oct. and midFeb-march 8.30pm-6.30pm, Nov.-midFeb. 8.30am-5.30pm.